How Lauren Spencer Smith, GAYLE & Em Beihold Joined Forces for ‘Fantasy’ Pop-Rock Girl Group

How Lauren Spencer Smith, GAYLE & Em Beihold Joined Forces for ‘Fantasy’ Pop-Rock Girl Group

When Lauren Spencer Smith started crafting her new song “Fantasy,” she had a feeling that it could use an extra dose (or two) of girl power to really drive home its “teenage, angry feelings about a breakup.”

“I kind of knew that I wanted a collaboration, but it just sat in a folder for a while and I hadn’t reached out to anybody. I didn’t really know who or what exactly it was going to be,” Smith told Billboard‘s Pop Shop Podcast, chatting on a Zoom call alongside eventual collaborators GAYLE and Em Beihold.

“And then throughout like a couple months, me, GAYLE and Em met each other on so many different occasions and became friends and we had a group chat,” Smith added of the ongoing text thread they dubbed the “Powerpuff” chat. “And I’ve been a fan of GAYLE and Em forever. I always listened to their music since way before I met them. So after we had had a group chat for a while, and we were like kind of a little friend group, I was like, ‘I’m just gonna ask because these seem like the perfect girls to have like a woman-empowerment moment on this song.’”

And so she did, texting her very own Powerpuff Girls with the idea. “I, like, freaked out,” Beihold recalls. “I was laying down on my bed, and then Lauren texted and I like bolted right up and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, she wants me to be on a song with her and GAYLE!’ And I was just super stoked because I love them and I love both of their music. And I just think it was such a fun opportunity. And also just going through all this together as friends is amazing. Because sometimes you do collabs with people that you don’t know too well and it’s fun, but to do it with people that you can just laugh with is amazing.”

“We only replied in all caps,” GAYLE adds. “We flipped out. So many exclamation points, like so, so much excitement.”

They also teamed up for an angsty music video, each starting out in their own scenes before coming together onscreen — including one perfect moment where they huddle together to yell the “OH, CONGRATULATIONS” line from the visceral chorus.

“When we were on set, I was like, ‘OK, if they asked me to be in a girl group tomorrow, I would say yes,’” Smith recalls.

Elsewhere in the interview, we discuss where each artist is in the process of making their debut full-length albums and about how well they relate to each other being young female pop stars who all broke out in the music industry in 2022 (Smith with “Fingers Crossed,” GAYLE with “ABCDEFU,” and Beihold with “Numb Little Bug”). Plus, GAYLE tells us all about hitting the road with Taylor Swift for her epic Eras Tour. “I’ve never really performed in a stadium before, so it’s such an honor and it’s definitely not something that I take lightly,” she says. “And so I’ve been trying my best to just do the best that I possibly can.”

Also on the show, we’ve got chart news on how Drake’s “Search and Rescue” debuts at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, marking his 68th top 10 hit, how a regional Mexican song is in the top 10 of the Hot 100 for the first time as Eslabon Armado and Peso Pluma’s “Ella Baila Sola” jumps 17-10, and how both NF and Linkin Park make a splash in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 albums chart.

The Billboard Pop Shop Podcast is your one-stop shop for all things pop on Billboard’s weekly charts. You can always count on a lively discussion about the latest pop news, fun chart stats and stories, new music, and guest interviews with music stars and folks from the world of pop. Casual pop fans and chart junkies can hear Billboard’s executive digital director, West Coast, Katie Atkinson and Billboard’s senior director of charts Keith Caulfield every week on the podcast, which can be streamed on Billboard.com or downloaded in Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast provider. (Click here to listen to the previous edition of the show on Billboard.com.)

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